Saturday, March 26, 2016

We Awaken in Christ's Body

Easter Vigil Year C
We Awaken in Christ’s Body
We awaken in Christ's body
as Christ awakens our bodies,
and my poor hand is Christ, He enters
my foot, and is infinitely me.

I move my hand, and wonderfully
my hand becomes Christ, becomes all of Him
(for God is indivisibly
whole, seamless in His Godhood).

I move my foot, and at once
He appears like a flash of lightning.
Do my words seem blasphemous? -- Then
open your heart to Him

and let yourself receive the one
who is opening to you so deeply.
For if we genuinely love Him,
we wake up inside Christ's body

where all our body, all over,
every most hidden part of it,
is realized in joy as Him,
and He makes us, utterly, real,

and everything that is hurt, everything
that seemed to us dark, harsh, shameful,
maimed, ugly, irreparably
damaged, is in Him transformed

and recognized as whole, as lovely,
and radiant in His light
he awakens as the Beloved
in every last part of our body.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed! Alleluia!

So wrote Saint Symeon the Theologian, a 10th century monastic in Byzantium. Symeon was called “Theologian” not in any academic sense, but as one who has had mystical, direct experiences of God and has shared them through his poetry and other writings. He often wrote and spoke of the importance of experiencing directly the Grace of God, describing his own experiences as Divine Light.

Something like that experienced by the women at the tomb in Luke. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, “and the other women with them” reported their direct experience of the Grace of God to the apostles. Who, as one would expect from a roomful of men, considered it all “an idle tale.” An idle tale, indeed!

Alleluia, Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed! Alleluia!

When the women get there “at early dawn,” the stone had already been rolled away. They went in only to find that the body was not there – the body they had come with spices they had prepared to properly prepare their Lord’s body for a proper burial.

Instead of finding the crucified Christ, however, they were greeted by two men “in dazzling white clothes!” Think, Miami Vice or Saturday Night Fever. These dazzling dudes are suddenly right beside them, terrifying the women. They bowed their faces to the ground.

The men say, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen! Remember what he had said – that he would be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”

If that is not a direct experience of the Grace of God, I don’t know what is. Everything that is hurt, everything that seemed to the women dark, harsh, shameful, maimed, ugly, irreparably
damaged, on Friday is suddenly, in Him, transformed. Suddenly, they themselves are  transformed. As Saint Paul would write to the church in Rome, they now find themselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus, the one who has risen!

Alleluia, Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed! Alleluia!

Suddenly these women are made whole and lovely and radiant in his light – the light of the Morning Star that knows no setting! They have been raise with Christ and in Christ and all that had been dead a mere 36 hours before at the cross – the shortest “three days” in recorded history – was now alive again, and all sadness is transformed to joy as He is already making them, making us, utterly real once more. We have to tell the eleven and the others, they tell themselves.

And off they go, back to the upper room where the men are hiding behind closed doors so as not to be associated with the One whom they called Lord – the One disgraced on a Roman cross – the One buried in a borrowed tomb. One would think they would be overjoyed to hear the News – the really really Good News – that the body is gone and the dazzling ones have announced that he has risen!

In fact, at that very moment he is walking along the road to Emmaus with Cleopas and another asking them what’s going on in Jerusalem. At that very moment he is sitting at table with these two roadside companions sharing bread with them while “the Eleven” and the “others” cannot be bothered with what the women are saying.

With one exception. Peter, who had denied ever knowing Him, is beset with the curiosity of this idle tale and gets up and runs, not walk, but runs to the tomb, stoops over and looks in for himself. The evidence supports the women’s tale. He goes home utterly amazed!

Alleluia, Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed! Alleluia!

The Gospel of the Lord. .Praise to you, Lord Christ. So who are we? Can we place ourselves among the women, the first witnesses, the first to bear witness, to the resurrection? Do we find ourselves with the Eleven and others and dismiss this as an idle tale? Are we Peter, who denied even knowing Jesus but now is compelled and absolutely must run, not walk, to the tomb to see for himself? Despite having heard this tale so many times, can we still allow ourselves to be amazed and transformed and let ourselves “awaken in Christ's body as Christ awakens our bodies,” as Symeon the Theologian imagines those who are baptized really are?

May we listen to these ancient voices: Paul, Luke and Saint Symeon. They have known Christ in the flesh. They bear witness to life lived with the Beloved awakened "in every part of our body." They invite us to look into the open tomb ourselves. Look inside and see – the tomb is open, not empty. No it is very full – full of the real presence of the Risen Christ in the lives of those who have seen him, picked up their crosses and followed him. Look – see where they laid him? We awaken in Christ’s body as he awakens our bodies! He awakens as the Beloved in every part of our bodies. This is Easter.  The open tomb issues an invitation:

Know, my sisters and brothers, little by little,
It takes time
Jesus will reveal to you just how much
He watches over you and loves you.
He calls you to follow him
So that you might do something beautiful with your life
And bear much fruit.

The world needs you,
The church needs you,
Jesus needs you,
They need your love and your light.

Let Jesus live in you
Go forward with him!

 Alleluia Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen, indeed. Alleluia!
Alleluia Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen, indeed. Alleluia!
Alleluia Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen, indeed. Alleluia!

And so are we, and so are we! Amen!

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